Thursday, May 22, 2014

Austria and the European Union

This week in our pre-work we learned about the cultural environment, economic environment, and political environment of Austria and it's capital city of Vienna.  We also learned a great deal about the European Union, why it was formed, what it does, and why it's important.
The EU is a partnership among 28 different countries which was established due to the aftermath of World War II.  The main goals of the EU were to promote peace and human rights, endorse equality, law, democracy, and the overall well being of the people.  Among many other things, the EU actually created the euro; the single form of currency in Europe.  18 of the 28 countries use euros!  Another noteworthy doing of the EU was removing the border controls between these countries in order to allow free movement of people and goods.  This made living, working, and trade incredibly easy in Europe.

Maddie did some research on the political environment and found that Austria is a federal republic with 9 federal provinces.  Each province actually has their own government and own governor.  The countries' have two different houses of parliament with the higher house being of importance because they vote on laws and keep the government running smoothly.  The two houses together are called "Bundesversammlung"--try saying that three times fast! The two houses come together to assume their duties of declaring war and confirming presidential elections.  The current president is Heinz Fischer and is a member for the Social Democrat party.

I did a lot of research on the cultural environment because the way that other people live, and how differently they live, from us intrigues me a lot.  I found that Austrians are very formal people and dress formally as well.  It is crucial to never be late, to always greet everyone in the room with a handshake or (if you are greeting a woman) a kiss, to never sit, eat, or call someone by their first name unless permitted to do so.  You are expected to bear gifts such as chocolate or flowers if you are visiting someone's home for a meeting; but never give flowers in even numbers unless it is an even dozen!  Never give red carnations, chrysanthemums, or lilies because these are only acceptable at funerals.  Austrians are very blunt and to the point; they don't mean to be rude, it's only their way of moving the discussion along and not getting stuck on topics and minor points that are irrelevant to the meeting.  
When it comes to dinner etiquette at a meeting, do not eat until permitted to do so.  Permission to eat normally comes with the words "Guten Appetit".  Always hold a fork in your left hand, knife in the right hand, and lay them on your plate facing left when you are finished.

These are among many things that we discovered about Austria and we cannot wait to visit and see them for ourselves!  

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